Recently, my kids’ doctor asked me how often we eat fast food and I said, ‘never.’ Then later I wondered if Panda Express counted. I suppose it could, depending on what you order, so maybe I’ll mention it next time we’re at the doctor’s office. But we will continue to eat there from time to time, because it’s tasty and it seems healthy, for the most part.

I think we should all stop eating shrimp. The damage we’ve done to our oceans in the name of a few prawn cocktails is terrible, and shrimp farming is pretty bad, too. And while good options for shrimp exist, I seriously doubt anyone’s going to go to the trouble to find out where their shrimp louie came from.

That said, Panda Express works well for us because my wife and I have all but eliminated noodles, rice, bread, and potatoes from our diet. The kids still eat bread and all; it’s mainly our diets in which it’s been deprecated. And we can order a plate full of vegetables there, instead of rice or noodles, to go with our entrées.

Yesterday, as we entered Panda Express we were greeted by about twenty employees, all of whom enthusiastically welcomed us in a fashion I haven’t experienced since visiting Tokyo, where the workers of every store or eatery will loudly welcome you as soon as you enter. Only this time we were in a Chinese restaurant in our hometown of Novato.

I was excited to have an opportunity to use the few words in Mandarin I know, 喜欢中国菜 (I like Chinese food). To which the man I was speaking to replied, “Me too!” Amusingly, that man was Andrew Cherng, the man who founded Panda Express. Affable and approachable, he was happy to take a photo with me. That’s him in the photo on the wall behind us, too, albeit a little younger.

Me and Andrew Cherng of Panda Express

Me and Andrew Cherng of Panda Express

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